Friday, September 16, 2016

A summer of adventure a lifetime of summits to come

As we approach the last weekend of Summer I’m looking back on all the amazing adventures that I not only had with my adventure wife Dawnelle (#adventuresofnatandd) but with the many other familiar and new faces. July was an epic month which started out with a trip to Crested Butte for the 4th of July where I had the chance to climb Gothic mountain.

Upon my return I packed my bags and headed for Aspen with D to hike the 26 mile 4 pass loop which has been on my horizon pretty much forever. I’m grateful for Marty Silvernail who let me borrow not only his pack but stove, pots, pans and water purifier which made our lives that much easier on the trail. Neither of us are backpackers and by the end of the trip our shoulders and hips were raw from all the weight.The four pass loop was just as challenging as it was beautiful and we finished in 3 nights and 4 days which was almost too short to take all the beauty in. Next year we’ve already made plans to do the same trip in reverse….
west maroon pass

Frigid air pass

Trail rider pass

Buckskin pass
Into the wild we go to loose our mind and find our soul

The next adventure week Dawnelle and I treated ourselves to well-deserved massages and pedicures. I had a knot the size of a baseball on my back that needed to be worked out and our feet were beyond hopeless and best left in the hands of professionals. The wildflowers were in peak condition mid-July so we spent our next adventure week exploring Herman’s Gulch under the threat of rain. While it felt nice to take a week to relax and recharge there was certainly something nice about reconnecting with nature. It’s harder than you think to acclimate back to a life of technology and noise so the break to the woods was a great reset.
Herman's Gulch

Chad and I also celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary with a trip to Telluride to hike Wilson Peak and finally make the trek to Ice Lake Basin
peak 44

wilson peak

island lake

looking down on ice lake basin

Finally at the end of July I had time to fly out to visit my sister in Alexandria and meet my new niece Lauren. It was my sister’s last few weeks of maternity leave so Charlotte and I did our best to be good house guests and help out. We spent time at the pool, ordering lots of food to eat in and walks for ice cream.

Before you know it the time to turn the calendar to August came. Dawnelle and I started the month strong with an adventure date to Fierce45 since they have childcare and she had just gotten her son back from the grandparents. We worked muscles we forgot we had and left ready to eat the entire city of Denver. 

Her son was still out of school the next week so we all went to the Boulder Res for a stand up paddle boarding excursion. I can confidently say that’s my least favorite place to SUP. They charge a $40 fee if you want to bring your own (you have to buy their permit which is only good for as long as the season lasts) and so I had to rent a board for the hour. Couple that with the fact there’s boats on the lake making waves and it’s certainly not an ideal spot.

I was leaving the next week for my Telluride Yoga + Hiking retreat so Dawnelle and I met at LoHi steak bar for a quick happy hour and catch up session. My retreat was an amazing experience and it was the biggest group I’ve ever had joining me. For the first time we had two men come – a boyfriend and spouse of two of my guests which added an extra element of fun as many times one or the other would be the only male in the group. We hiked to the hidden Little Hawaii, I enjoyed watching everyone overcome fears on the Via Ferrata and we had a perfect day at Hope Lake. Despite the cooler temps and afternoon rain showers we practiced yoga on the mountain top every day and were only interrupted by a wedding and engagement once…

Home for a few days after Telluride and it was off to Alaska for the ultimate summer experience. Alba, Dawnelle and I had registered for the Lost Lake Run six months prior and were now ready as we’d ever be to run 16 miles. The race sold out in 5 minutes and were a few of the lucky 700 people to gain admission to the event. I must say I’m betting we were also the only ones from out of state. While in Alaska we also hiked Flattop Mountain and drove to Homer for the best fish and chips (just for the Halibut!) I’ve ever had. We arrived home tired, bruised and full of excitement for another race to come in the future….once my toenail isn’t black anymore.

To commemorate all our summer of adventure, fun, friendship and new experiences we cemented our happiness in the ultimate form of expression: a tattoo. I only have an Om symbol and two arrows but I must say the mountains are my new favorite tattoo. Alba and Dawnelle got them on their ribcage whereas I chose my forearm. This was Dawnelle’s first tattoo and perhaps her only one so I felt flattered I was able to convince her to get these beautiful mountains for an adventure day. My mom had arrived in town as well as my brother so they got to witness the event as well before we all had lunch and cocktails afterwards.

My brother arrives in town every year to hike a 14er so for Labor Day we drove down to Westcliff while my mom babysat to hike Crestone Needle. My brother has climbed 6 other 14ers which is pretty good for not living in Colorado but he’d never hiked anything as challenging as the needle. Luckily my friend Randy joined to help guide us to the top of the peak so we didn’t miss the gulley crossover where people frequently die when climbing. We had less than ideal conditions once we started going for the top and nearly every group we saw was turning around on the peak but the fog wasn’t threatening so we pressed on. Our original plans to hike both mountains were thwarted but it’s a good thing we didn’t backpack in because the heavy rains at night would have washed us out. As we lay in our new camper I could only thank the heavens for our well thought out purchase. I’m getting to old to camp in the mud!

After eyeing North Maroon since 2013 when I first saw the bells I finally had my chance to stand on its summit. Dawnelle and I circled the bells the whole time we were hiking the four pass loop and I told myself I’d be back for the mountain. Even though North Maroon isn’t classified as a true 14er it’s one of the 58 and I knew I’d never feel complete until I rang both. Randy was supposed to join our adventure but he messed his ankle up so it was up to myself and my husband to lead the way and get Margaret, Courtney and Kelsie to the top safely.
I have a healthy fear of the mountains and climbing this class 4 peak was no exception. I spent enough time researching and obsessing to know we could make the hike so we camped off Independence Pass and off we went at 5:30am Saturday morning. With a gorgeous day ahead we rightfully encountered plenty of others who were making the climb and several who were coming down from the traverse. Overall I believe North Maroon to be easier than south although the second gulley was just as steep as it looks in photos and there’s lots of potential for rock all every turn. The class 4 crux of the route was a lot worse coming down than going up but thanks to Chad’s spotting we all made it with no issues. I will say the crux of Crestone Needle was harder and the route finding on the needle wasn’t nearly as good as it was on north maroon. However the rock on the needle is more solid and it took us a lot less time climbing up and down over 12 miles than it did for n maroon hiking 9.5

heading up the second gulley

Oh yes and there was also the 2nd annual Glamping Retreat with my OG bestie Margaret:

What a summer. I may not have flown or taught as much over the past 12 weeks but I can say it was totally worth all the schedule rearranging and hassle. I must thank everyone who subbed for me, picked up my flights, my parents for flying out and babysitting and my husband for picking up the slack. If it wasn’t for my adventure wife Dawnelle I doubt I would have ever gone to Alaska to run 16 miles or taken time out to hike the 4 pass loop. My retreats introduced me to more amazing women who have become my lunch, HH dates and hiking partners and I thank myself every day that I was brave enough to take a chance to do something no one else was doing. It’s never easy to step outside one’s comfort zone and I’m filled with gratitude for everyone that steps out with me and motivates me to push harder and climb higher.

After I came back from Alaska my husband made the remark that my adventure days were coming to a close. He wasn’t putting the kibosh on them he simply thought that after the Lost Lake Run my adventure wife and I couldn’t possibly have more to do. On the contrary, I told him, Dawnelle and I have a lifetime of adventure days ahead. Our goal is to keep creating, keep inspiring, find new hobbies and then pass our passions on to others. Summer may be over but a 
whole new season of expeditions begin….and yes there’s much more to come.